Senior Ashley White was passionate about the theater. But she also loved teaching. After earning a BA in English and MA in Education, she taught high school English and theater. Three years into her career, she still felt the tug of the professional theater industry. So she made a brave decision to follow her lifelong dream. This May, she will graduate from Jessup with a BA in Theater. Ashley was recently accepted into the University of Alabama’s MFA Directing program, a program that has an acceptance rate of one per year! Ashley is thrilled to use the skills and education she gained at Jessup as she continues following her theater dreams to the University of Alabama (UA).
We got the opportunity to ask Ashley a little about her journey, her time at Jessup, the UA Directing program, and her future plans.
Why did you choose Jessup Theater?
Before applying to Jessup, I had a meeting on campus with Derek Martin (Theater Program Advisor and Associate Professor). Derek was supportive and understanding. He welcomed me into the program and school with open arms. When I got home from that meeting, I immediately applied for admission as I knew I wanted to be in such a caring environment and be a part of Jessup Theatre.
What was your favorite part of life at Jessup?
My favorite aspect of Jessup is the people – the students, the staff, the faculty. Everyone is so welcoming, kind, and hardworking. My professors were fantastic – caring and inspiring. Jessup is such a positive environment!
What role did student scholarships play in your Jessup education?
I received a theatre department scholarship and an academic scholarship. The scholarships were integral in helping me pay for tuition. I appreciate the university’s generosity with giving scholarships to students.
Tell me a little about the University of Alabama’s theater program and what you would like to do after you graduate from the program.
In November 2019, I attended a conference called SETC LiNK in Atlanta. At this event, I created a table display about my current directing work and then graduate programs could interview me. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by every graduate program in attendance. The University of Alabama was one of the programs I interviewed with. The interview went really well and I was excited about UA!
In February, I received an email from The University of Alabama saying that I was one of the top two candidates. I had a second interview with the directing faculty. A couple of weeks later, I received a formal offer. UA has an acceptance rate of one MFA Directing candidate per year, so I was beyond excited.
It’s a three-year program. During the first year, I’ll assistant direct productions and will TA in classes. During the second and third years, I’ll direct four fully-supported productions and will be an instructor on record. Tuition is covered, plus a stipend and healthcare.
After I graduate, I intend to be a freelance director with the long-term goal of being an artistic director of a theatre company. Additionally, with my educational background, I could see myself someday working as a theatre professor at a university.
How did Jessup/Jessup’s theater program help prepare you for this next step in your journey?
Derek and Jennifer Martin are wonderful mentors. I was particularly fortunate in that I was able to work as a student worker in Derek’s office and as the box office manager. I was able to gain hands-on experience and insight into how a university theatre department runs. Jen and Derek create an open, compassionate, and familial environment which allows their students to grow. Personally, they have been enormous supporters of my journey. They are always there to give advice, answer questions, and to challenge. They believe in their students and help give us the confidence we need to go after our dreams.
If you have a free day, how do you spend it?
I love spending time with my family, reading, kayaking, seeing shows, and watching movies.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
Because of my dad’s job, my family moved frequently when I was younger. I attended nine different schools throughout K-12. Even though moving can be hard, looking back, I am really grateful for the experience because I was able to explore new places and meet new people. I have friends from all over the US!
We’re excited to encourage and support Ashley as she embarks on the next phase of her educational journey and beyond. Congratulations, Ashley on a job well done!